6/2/2020 9:36:00 AM Commissioners Hear Budget Comments
It was 'S-R-O' at the Public Hearing on the proposed Lincoln County Budget for fiscal 2021 Monday night (June 1st).
Wayne Howard Staff Writer
16 people spoke during the Public Hearing on the proposed Lincoln County budget for fiscal 2021 Monday night (June 1st). All but two of them asked Commissioners to reconsider a proposed 5% budget cut for the schools.
Amanda Moore asked Commissioners to change their minds about proposed cuts to Communities in Schools, the dropout prevention organization that works with troubled students to try to improve their chances of graduation and a successful adult life. Commissioners plan to cut the funding for CIS each year for the next two and eliminate funding entirely in fiscal 2023.
John Hall, director of Hesed House of Hope, appealed again to Commissioners not to cut the charitable operation from the budget. At their May 18th meeting, Commissioners had tentatively agreed to eliminate a $10,000 contribution to Hesed House from the budget. Debbie Wooten, a member of the board of Hesed House of Hope, Debbie Wooten, spoke during the Public Comments portion of that meeting, also appealing for restoration of the contribution. Hall told Commissioners, "we are the only homeless shelter in Lincoln County, and with the economy suffering, we expect the need to be even greater." Hall said Hesed House is a United Way agency and also receives contributions from churches and individuals, "but we need government support also. I am hear to speak on behalf of those who have no voice. We're called Hesed House of Hope, and I'm asking you not eliminate that hope."
The other 14 people included the Superintendent of Lincoln County Schools, Dr. Lory Morrow, chair of the School Board Cathy Davis, school board member Heather Rhyne, former interim superintendent Elaine Jenkins, multiple teachers and parents. All of them spoke in favor of giving the schools more money--raising their funding to the same level as 2019-2020.
The schools had asked for a four million dollar budget increase plus $800,000 to be used for replacement or repair or HVAC & technology equipment. Instead, Commissioners' preliminary budget cuts school funding for the first time in five years.
Dr. Lory Morrow was first to speak, telling Commissioners that with the COVID-19 pandemic and the outcome still uncertain, schools face a need for more--not less--money as they hope to open this Fall. CLICK HERE to view her comments.
Chris Rhyne, who headed up the committee that pushed for adopting the additonal local optional quarter-cent sales tax two years ago, told Commissioners he was disappointed. "That was supposed to be extra money for the schools; we told people it wouldn't replace other school funding." County Finance Director Deanna Rios responded at the request of Commission chair Carrol Mitchem that the schools are getting all the money from the quarter-cent sales tax." Rhyne said after the meeting, "that's true, but they're cutting other funding, so while the schools are geting that money, it's no longer 'extra,' it's having to replace money that might have been in the regular budget."
Commissioners will finalize the budget at their mid-monthly meeting June 15th. The time for public comments is over, but some have suggested that those who disagree with the budget cuts should contact individual commissioners with their concerns.
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